SunEdison has won a bid in the National Solar Mission (NSM) auction of the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh to develop a 500MW solar project and sell solar power at a record low tariff of INR 4.63/kWh (US$0.071).
As the online reverse bidding process for the second round of the auction progressed through the night, the tariffs were signalling a paradigm shift for the entire Indian power sector as they dropped below INR4.80/kWh, which is at grid parity with wind power and even new greenfield coal-fired power generation, which tends to have tariffs between 4.5 and 5 rupees per unit.
Japanese firm Softbank, much-touted for its announcement of investing US$20 billion in India’s renewables market, is thought to have stayed in the second round until the bids dropped to INR 4.80/kWh.
Among the 28 companies that were involved in the bidding process, nine companies submitted bids that were below the INR 5/kWh mark, including Enel Green, Reliance, Renew, Solar Arise, Acme Solar and Orange Renewable Power. Some other major developers who were unsuccessful in their bidding were SkyPower, Azure, Fortum, Welspun, Trina Solar and First Solar.
The previous lowest solar tariff in India was awarded to PV developer SkyPower at INR 5.05/kWhin the state auction of Madhya Pradesh.
The tariffs dropping below the five rupee mark yesterday sparked an online debate about whether PV projects are workable at such low prices, with even Jigar Shah, the well-known clean energy entrepreneur and co-founder of SunEdison, who leads specialist finance company Generate Capital, commenting on Twitter that it is “time to scrap auctions”. “Returns today are simply not high enough for investors,” said Shah.
The auction marks the first central government led allocation under India’s NSM since prime minister Modi took office. The next auctions for capacity within solar parks under the NSM will take place in Rajasthan and Karnataka.
Photo Credit: rechargenews